Grey Projects


Repel Revel: In Conversation with Denise Yap

Grey Projects (GP): Tell us about your day to day, what’s your first months of being ‘full-time’ in art like?


Denise Yap (DY): I actually didn't give my practice my full attention and time. I was very afraid of not being able to sustain myself financially which translated to not being able to practice and it manifested as anxiety. So you could say I was very kiasi and also kiasu. Before I graduated, I had already taken up a freelance job, did odd-jobs here and there to figure out how I can sustain myself and my practice. I was actively searching and applying for jobs, but with no responses, my anxiety grew day by day. Currently 5 months after graduation, I am holding a few jobs and am able to sustain at least for a while. With this newfound stability, I've stopped thinking about my day to day- not that I've stopped counting days, but Sundays don't differ from Mondays anymore.

GP: How’s the book you’ve chosen, what stood out for you?

DY: I chose Amanda Lee Koe's Ministry of Moral Panic. I read the stories according to its layout and in succession. The last story of the book is titled The Ballad of Arlene & Nelly. It is structured in a conversational way, like an interview of sorts. Recently I went to her debut for Delayed Rays of a Star and asked if she had any inspiration for the format and she responded that it was an interesting way to structure or write a story. Initially, like Amanda, I thought the questions were also to push the narrative forward until I read the first two sentences of the last page.

Why would anyone title this The Ballad of Arlene & Nelly?
They would do so for Arlene.

I'm not exactly sure what it is about these two lines that captivates me. Like artist's interviews or interviews in general, the questions are asked for the sake of knowing more about a particular subject. Every other question was replied by a story explaining their ballad and the development of their relationship. Yet in these two sentences, a "third" person forms here between the supposedly separate 'interviewer' and 'interviewee'. They fuse into one; showing the thought process of writing. I don't know why I am pointing this out, I just really enjoyed the feeling I got when this fusion of two roles forms into the shape of a human.

GP: Where do you imagine your story going, how many chapters or storylines have you thought of, and can describe one or two of these for us?

DY: Okay, I'll try to make it concise and clear: My prologue is set in a world where capitalism recognises the labour of childbirth and pays for it. 'dom' is a middle-man corporation that connects parents to other companies and institutions. dom does a background check by looking at the respective parents' resumés and markets the potential of the parent's child to companies who are looking for certain kind of people. The multiple companies will bid on which child they think will benefit or grow the best under their care. If the tender is successful, it is then awarded to company A. dom checks the condition of the infant and communicates with company A before deciding if the infant aligns with their perception of an ideal candidate. The text in the work was a prologue of a storyline; Dane O. Moritz selling Mr and Mrs Snow's not-yet-born daughter as a potential ballet dancer. The ballet academy awards Lucy Snow, showering her with ballet classes, allowance, and care for her well-being. Lucy, having a straightforward life, perceives being told what to do as a norm. With a blueprint that clearly paints her destiny for her, there is no space for exploration or expression of the self. Lucy will meet countless people along the way and she will have to decide for herself if the people she meets consider as deviants or variants. Since I was thinking about a capitalist society, instead of framing it as a storyline, it may add more meaning if this develops into an infographic video. I also imagine that the video can be displayed at an atas-looking showroom installation.